Characters from various parts of United States history will be appearing at Lake Etta this year, sharing the stories of their time as well as their perspective on current events, says Sandy Basala, superintendent of visitor services with the Lake County Parks Department.
The History Speaks lecture series, which begins April 7 and continues with lectures on May 5, July 7 and Aug. 4, includes lectures given from the perspectives of Abigail Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Payne, and Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln.
Although there have been similar performers at special parks event, this is the first time a whole series has been devoted to the historical interpretations, Basala said.
“(The actors) take on the role of the characters, and can answer questions and give their interpretations of historical events,” Basala said.
The characters in the series who are being portrayed aren’t contemporaries, but all reflect pivotal periods in the country’s history.
Basala says the performances are a good way to supplement education, and might be good for home school groups who have the flexibility to hold field trips on weekends.
If the lecture series is popular, Basala would like to bring it back next year with different performances.
“You get to look at history in a way you don’t get to very often,” she says.
R.J. Lindsey, who has been recreating historical characters for more than two decades, will portray Thomas Payne, who was an important voice during the revolution.
“He was a man who inspired the colonies when things were going badly,” says Lindsey, who also has performed as Benjamin Franklin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and New York Times editor Carr Van Anda.
During the programs, he tells stories from the historical perspective, but also puts a historical perspective on current political issues.
“We try to bring in some history that people don’t know about,” he says. “We provide information and inspiration.”
Jessica Michna has been presenting American First Ladies for 13 years, will be presenting Abigal Adams, the wife of John Adams, who was the second president, and the mother of John Quincy Adams, who was the country’s fifth president.
Michna hopes the performances draw attention to historical figures and help people further their interest in history and its characters.
“(This) shows Abigail’s strength, her commitment to her husband, and the new nation,” Michna says.
Basala says she hopes people leave the performances with an insight into history, but also have an enjoyable afternoon.
“We want people to be able to sit back and be entertained, and if they pick up some knowledge along the way, that’s OK, too,” she says.